Did you know your local chamber of commerce is an amazingly good resource for business people? Chambers of commerce exist to help local businesses prosper, through advocacy, group sales, or other marketing effort and the Vail Chamber and Business Association is no different. It is possible to attend chamber events and so on without becoming a member, but the benefits of membership are so great that it’s well worth the fee to go ahead and sign up.
Member benefits vary from chamber to chamber, but one often-overlooked universal benefit is the chamber directory. All chamber members are listed in an annually updated directory that’s provided to members and on their website for free. The benefits here are twofold. First, your listing in the directory means that other chamber members who need your type of product are likely to reach out to you before trying non-member businesses in your industry. That means that you can hope for some good windfall prospects to come your way just from having your name in the directory. And second, that directory is a wonderful source of leads. At a minimum, the directory provides each member’s contact information and industry. The directory is essentially a perfect, free-lead list for your business with a built-in opener ... you can approach these leads with the information that, same as them, you are a member of the local chamber.
Chamber events are also terrific networking opportunities. The chamber has regularly scheduled quarterly “mixers” in which members can meet and greet each other. You can make the most of these opportunities by volunteering to speak at one of our mixers. The majority of chamber members are local small business owners who are likely interested in learning more about who their Vail neighbors are and what they do. Who better than you to teach them about your business? We offer a “member spotlight” section every week in our enewsletter for our member businesses to communicate their newest promotion or news. Make sure you take advantage of this free marketing. If you enjoy writing you can also volunteer to contribute articles to the chamber newsletter — we welcome our members’ participation. The chamber will also be adding more relevant programming and training workshops in the near future, so make sure you are set up to receive our enewsletter. The chamber newsletter mentions upcoming events, member spotlights and other pertinent town and community information, which makes it easy for you to plan and stay abreast of current issues and happenings.
Before you join the chamber, ask yourself if you can offer a discount or other special deal for chamber members. We are happy to advertise this promotion on the chamber website or in our enewsletter; if not, at least write up a flyer and distribute it at one of our mixers.
It’s likely that similar businesses such as yours are members of the chamber. If you can track down a few other neighboring businesses (which we can help you with), you have the start of a great referral group. You and your fellow business owners can exchange leads, refer guests you cannot accommodate and generally help each other out. This is one of the greatest benefits of being a part of such a small, but strong community!
Finding the Vail Chamber and Business Association isn’t difficult. Visit us online at www.vailchamber.org or drop us a line at 970-477-0075 next time you have a free minute. We love to hear from members and non-members alike. If you are interested in finding out more about what the VCBA can offer you, or if you just want to stay informed about all of the great things happening in Vail, please check in with the Vail Chamber and Business Association.
Alison Wadey is the executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.